On Monday, I wrote a little about what was being said locally and across the country in broadcasting circles of an alleged typing error on a graphic on WTMJ-TV Ch. 4.
The R-rated term was on a photo posted by JimRomenesko.com after he got it from another post. Duane Dudek at JSOnline also wrote about it in his blog, after seeing it posted by a fellow Journal Communications employee.
Working in TV, newspapers and digital news, I know all too well how often errors happen in the written word. We try to avoid them, but as technology advances and journalists scramble to get info out there quickly … well some quality is sacrificed for speed and quantity. I wish this wasn’t the case. Can’t avoid the truth of the matter - media outlets have cut back on the number of staffers to do the work.
Also, there are more outlets providing information. Every traditional and digital media outlet, including OnMilwaukee.com, live in the here and now. We all must deal with the realities of the economy and scale accordingly to deliver our product. And, there’s an ever-changing expectation on media in our society. We want it all, when and where we want it.
When errors happen, media members with credibility own up to them. I’m sorry I wasn’t more cynical of the reports I consumed and did more digging before throwing this item into Monday’s column.
WTMJ’s GM Steve Wexler was ready to take ownership of the misspelling of "SWAT Situation" here, but his team didn’t make an R-rated error. The image shared online was a hoax.
"As you can imagine, the purported graphic mistake during our coverage of the SWAT incident in Shorewood that you published got our attention," Wexler wrote in a letter to Romenesko.
"While we’re not perfect, we do work hard to be careful, especially during fast-breaking news situations. In this case, it appears that the photo you mentioned and linked to, was in fact a hoax."
Wexler pointed out that his news team went through Friday’s video frame-by-frame and didn’t see the error. He said that no calls were placed nor complaints were reported to the station.
"We have compared the supposed "screen shot" that you publicized to an actual shot that did make it on air. As you can see, the fonts are close but not exact replica," Wexler wrote.
"I’m not claiming that we don’t sometimes make mistakes. When we do, we deserve the criticism that follows. But in this case, it appears that someone with too much time on their hands and a sophomoric sense of humor used software to alter the pictures and distribute them."
Wexler went on seeking a correction and apology from Romenesko. The site did update the story and print Wexler’s letter. I doubt he’ll get an apology from Romenesko and his staffers.
For those that study media, and take an outsider’s view, this is a great lesson to see how quickly information can spread. In our social media-driven world where we each fulfill our need to share everything with others, that we should take to heart the No. 1 rule in journalism – consider the source.
Media is bombarding us everywhere.
Instead of sheltering his brain from the onslaught, Steve embraces the news stories, entertainment, billboards, blogs, talk shows and everything in between.
The former writer, editor and producer in TV, radio, Web and newspapers, will be talking about what media does in our community and how it shapes who we are and what we do.